Our letter to the Editor of Birmingham Live regarding the protection of people at risk of overdose
Alice Cachia and James Rodger’s article (‘The tragedy of Brummies at risk of overdoses who are 'failing' to be protected’, Wednesday 27 March) highlights the important role of take-home naloxone kits in preventing overdoses in Birmingham and beyond, as well as the challenges in increasing their use.
As a charity that supports people in Birmingham to tackle substance misuse and make lasting changes in their lives, we are determined to continue to raise awareness and increase access to naloxone. Every drug-related death is a tragedy – and almost always preventable on some level. We are determined to do what we can to keep our clients well and to live a healthy life and to work with partners across the city, because we believe that every life matters. We are proactively offering naloxone to all people in treatment and are also offering it proactively as part of needle exchange provision across the city. Progress is being made. In 2015/16, our first full year of delivering naloxone in Birmingham, we distributed 179 naloxone kits. Last year nearly 1,400 life-saving kits were issued, meaning that our drug and alcohol services in Birmingham distributed naloxone to nearly half our service users.
There is still more to do. Ultimately, increasing the take-up of naloxone depends in large part on our ability to increase the numbers of people accessing our services. This is why we are working hard to engage vulnerable and hard-to-reach people who have tended not to access our services but who would benefit from expert support to keep them safe and alive.
We are realistic that this alone is not the answer, for the simple reason that it will never be possible to engage every individual with treatment services. This is why we are exploring ways to provide people not in treatment with access to naloxone. This includes making naloxone kits available in local pharmacies and to family members or friends who may be concerned that someone close to them may be at risk of overdose. Spreading the word that naloxone is available and encouraging people to come and talk to us to receive a kit and receive training from us on how to use it helps us to increase the numbers receiving this life-saving intervention.